2012/02/14

NEW NET Weekly List for 14 February 2012

Below is the final list of issues for the Tuesday, 14 February 2012, NEW NET (NorthEast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology) 7:00 - 9:00 PM weekly gathering upstairs at Tom's Drive In501 N. Westhill Blvd., Appleton, WI, USA, near Woodman's. Ignore the chain if it's across the stairs; come on up and join the tech fun!



The ‘net
1.        MITx: MIT’s new online learning initiative  http://mitx.mit.edu/  “MITx will offer a portfolio of MIT courses for free to a virtual community of learners around the world. It will also enhance the educational experience of its on-campus students, offering them online tools that supplement and enrich their classroom and laboratory experiences. The first MITx course, 6.002x (Circuits and Electronics), will be launched in an experimental prototype form. Watch this space for further upcoming courses, which will become available in Fall 2012. Taught by Anant Agarwal, with Gerald Sussman and Piotr Mitros, 6.002x (Circuits and Electronics) is an on-line adaption of 6.002, MIT’s first undergraduate analog design course. This prototype course will run, free of charge, for students worldwide from March 5, 2012 through June 8, 2012. Students will be given the opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of the material and earn a certificate from MITx.…”
2.       Bram Cohen: My goal is to kill off television  http://gigaom.com/video/bram-cohen-kill-tv/  “BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen demoed his P2P live streaming protocol at the San Francisco MusicTech Summit on Monday, which he said could potentially stream live video to millions of computers with no central infrastructure. Cohen said that the protocol could potentially be used for video conferencing, live streams of video game tournaments or even live sports events. “My goal here is to kill off television,” he joked…The ultimate winners of a P2P-based solution could be consumers, he argued, because it would enable publishers to put much more content online at a fraction of the cost of traditional CDNs…”
Gigabit Internet
3.       Israel eyes ultra-fast Internet network  http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/wire-news/israel-eyes-ultra-fast-internet-network_665170.html  “…the government has given the go-ahead for state-run utility Israel Electric Corp (IEC) to find investors to build the network using fiber optic cables, which can provide Internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second…the fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network…is estimated to cost billions of shekels to deploy some 25,000 km of fiber optics -- 70 percent of which will be above ground to keep costs down. Harpak aims for deployment to begin in early 2013 with a target to cover two-thirds of Israel by 2020…Bezeq -- Israel's largest telecom group…Cable company HOT…offer speeds up to 100 megabits per second but most Israelis surf at speeds of 5-10 megabits…Upload speeds, though, are no more than 1 megabit…Israel had other constraints in keeping Internet speeds low, such as just one undersea cable to Cyprus to serve the country. Another undersea cable to Italy has recently begun operation and a third is nearing completion…We have to look at Korea and Japan and see that FTTH is a mere fact of the present and not the future…South Korea has the highest household penetration of FTTH at 55 percent, followed by Japan at 40 percent and Hong Kong at 39 percent…FTTH is available in 22 million homes in the United States and Canada…About 40 million homes in Europe are hooked up to fiber…HOT and Bezeq…said they welcome new competition. "The consensus view of analysts and Israeli telecommunications companies is that (fiber to the home) is not going to get off the ground…”
4.       Is Google planning to offer IP video to Kansas City?  http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/02/kansas-google-fiber-you-want-ip-video-with-that.ars  “Does Google want to provide some kind of IP video service for the people of Kansas City…Here's another hint that they may be true after all: the Federal Communications Commission has received and reviewed an application from Google Fiber for a fixed satellite, receive-only earth station to be located in Council Bluffs, Iowa—about 200 miles northwest of the two Kansas cities…On February 2, the FCC partially turned down the request, but for technical or administrative reasons that suggest that another filing could prevail, or that Google Fiber might be able to pursue the project anyway. First, the agency's Satellite Division dismissed the need to apply for a license for the Ku band…because there are no other primary users in this spectrum…Second…ALSAT ("All US-Licensed Satellites") via various requested frequencies in the C and Ku bands…do not belong to the "conventional" bands allowed this privilege by the FCC. Those earth stations that do provide fixed-satellite service in the appropriate bands can access any U.S. satellite "without additional Commission action,"…In addition, the FCC had an auditor vet the application for interference problems. None were found…So some of Google Fiber's request appears to have received a green light—one that might bloom into a video service…”
Security, Privacy & Digital Controls
5.        Vevo/Music Industry execs should face criminal charges for copyright infringement, caught publicly streaming NFL gamefrom 'rogue site'  http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120209/12372417713/major-label-owned-vevo-caught-publicly-streaming-nfl-game-off-rogue-site.shtml  “…ICE has been making the case that sites that merely link to streaming content -- especially sports content -- are the most evil kinds of criminals around. It's why they're trying to extradite Richard O'Dwyer from the UK to have him face criminal charges. It's why they recently arrested Yonjo Quiroa, who will soon be tried on criminal charges as well. Both ran sites that linked to streams of TV content, including sports content…if you believe the propaganda from the RIAA, these sites contribute to gangland violence and terrorism…Vevo, the music video streaming company created by Universal Music and owned by Universal Music and Sony Music, had a booth set up at Sundance a few weeks back, where they, quite clearly, live-streamed an NFL playoff game…apparently sourced from ESPN America -- which isn't available in the US. And the stream came from TuTele.tv, which appears to be quite similar to many of the sites that have been seized and shut down…I eagerly await ICE moving in to arrest Vevo execs for this blatant criminal activity.”  http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/10/vevo-ceo-tries-to-explain-their-hypocritical-act-of-piracy-at-sundance/  “…Now VEVO CEO Rio Caraeff…writes that the game was accessed and streamed by a guest of the event without VEVO’s knowledge…I don’t have any proof to indicate that what Caraeff writes is incorrect, but I’m raising my eyebrow at this explanation…it was playing on several screens, so it was hard to miss…I have a hard time believing a random guest could just commandeer the computer without any employees noticing…Furthermore, this seems no different than an accused pirate explaining that they left their Wifi open, only to have it used by someone else to download content illegally. Which happens to be a defense the RIAA has previously fought vigilantly against, when it sought to make owners of ISP accounts liable for any infringing activity, even if the owner had no knowledge of it. Hypocrisy, indeed…” [I wonder if the RIAA/MPAA lawyers will sue VEVO – ed.]
6.       Patent troll claims ownership of interactive Web—and almost won  http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/02/patent-troll-claims-ownership-of-interactive-weband-might-win.ars  “…Tyler, Texas…is the site of a remarkable battle over the history of the World Wide Web—a trial that could affect the future of e-commerce. The federal courthouse downtown is packed to the brim with dozens of lawyers, representing the world’s biggest Internet companies, including Yahoo, Amazon, Google…A succession of pioneers of the early Web—including…Tim Berners-Lee himself—has flown in from around the world to denounce two software patents they believe threaten the future of Web innovation…Michael Doyle, a…Chicago biologist, claims that it was actually he and two co-inventors who invented—and patented—the "interactive web" before anyone else…back in 1993…The defendants hotly contest that, saying that it was programs like Pei-Yuan Wei's pioneering Viola that first offered this functionality…Doyle and his lawyers say he’s owed royalty payments for…Watching online video, having a "search suggestion" pop up in a search bar, or even rotating an image of a sweater you might want to buy on an online shopping site…The company sued Microsoft back in 1999, winning a $521 million jury verdict in 2003 that shook the tech world. While that verdict was overturned on appeal, Microsoft ultimately settled rather than re-trying the case…the company got well over $100 million from that case…The W3C, the global Web standards group, contacted the patent office directly, sending a letter signed by Berners-Lee warning that unless the Eolas patent was invalidated it would cause the "disruption of global web standards"…Eolas' lawyers have actually used the struggle against the patent to bolster their claim that it’s an important invention…on Oct. 6, 2009…Eolas filed suit—in East Texas—against more than 20 big companies, including Apple, Playboy, Perot Systems, Blockbuster, Citigroup, eBay, and Frito-Lay—all for using the "interactive web." Most of those companies settled; eight remain as defendants. In addition to the Internet companies mentioned above, GoDaddy, JC Penney, Staples, and CDW Corp are in the case…Eolas lawyers…seek damages of more than $600 million against those eight companies…”  http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/02/interactive-web-patent/  “…An eight-member federal jury in East Texas deliberated Thursday for just a few hours before concluding that all of Eolas’ asserted claims of ownership to technology allowing access to the interactive web were invalid…The eight defendant companies who resisted the lawsuits won’t pay anything to Eolas…for using the web…At “Rick’s on the Square” opposite the courthouse, defense lawyers were celebrating. There was a giddy atmosphere; these folks truly felt like they saved the Web today…As for the many companies that settled with Eolas, they might be regretting that pragmatic decision in light of the verdict…” [I, for one, am glad that SkyNet and Yahoo fought the Eolas lawsuit whilst Apple, Citigroup, Microsoft and others paid licensing fees to Eolas – ed.]
7.        Proview Asks China Customs to Stop IPad Imports, Exports  http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-14/proview-asks-china-customs-to-stop-ipad-imports-exports.html  “Proview International Holdings Ltd., which claims ownership of the iPad trademark in China, is asking the nation’s customs bureau to block imports and exports of Apple Inc.’s tablet computer…Roger Xie, a lawyer representing Proview, said…“We are applying to customs to stop any trademark- infringing products from imports to China and also for exports…Apple wants to postpone and continue infringement of the iPad in China.” Carolyn Wu, Apple’s Beijing-based spokeswoman, said the Cupertino, California-based company bought Proview’s worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 10 countries, including China…“Proview refuses to honor their agreement with Apple in China,” Wu said. “Our case is still pending in mainland China.”…Apple sued Proview’s Shenzhen-based unit in 2010, claiming ownership of the iPad trademark in China. The Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court rejected Apple’s claims on Nov. 17, Proview said in a Dec. 15 regulatory filing. Apple appealed that ruling to the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong province on Jan. 5…” [if Apple’s claim is accurate, that they already paid Proview for rights to the iPad name, then it sounds like Chinese blackmail; I wonder how much more Apple will be forced to pay Proview and what the US gov’t would do if the Chinese courts/gov’t stopped iPad exports and imports? – ed.]
8.       The Perpetual, Invisible Window Into Your Gmail Inbox  http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2012/02/perpetual-window-into-gmail/  “The other day, I tried out Unroll.me, a clever new service that reads your inbox to let you unsubscribe from mailing lists and other unwanted e-mail flotsam with a single click. As I was about to connect my Gmail account, my finger hovered over the “Grant access” button. Wait a second. Who am I giving access to my Gmail account, anyway? There was no identifying information on their site — no company address, no team page listing the names of its team members, and broken links to their privacy policy or terms of service…And I was about to give them unfettered access to eight years of my e-mail history and, with password resets, the ability to access any of my online accounts?...But since Gmail added OAuth support in March 2010, an increasing number of startups are asking for a perpetual, silent window into your inbox. I’m concerned OAuth, while hugely convenient for both developers and users, may be paving the way for an inevitable privacy meltdown… I asked on Twitter and Google+ for people to check their Google app permissions to see who they’ve granted Gmail access to. The list includes a range of inbox organizers, backup services, email utilities, and productivity apps: TripIt, Greplin, Rapportive, Xobni, Gist, OtherInbox, Unsubscribe, Backupify, Blippy, Threadsy, Nuevasync, How’s My Email, ToutApp, ifttt, Email Game, Boomerang, Kwaga, Mozilla F1, 0boxer, Taskforce, and Cloudmagic…You may trust Google to keep your email safe, but do you trust a three-month-old Y Combinator-funded startup created by three college kids? Or a side project from an engineer working in his 20 percent time? How about a disgruntled or curious employee of one of these third-party services?…”
9.       Why Bank Websites Are Suddenly Less Secure  http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/27554/  “…a new attack called "Man in the Browser" allows attackers who have infected a computer with malicious software to get around the bank website security systems that demand, for example, a pin in addition to a password. A BBC investigation uncovered the vulnerability. Once an attacker has access to the browser, they can ask a user to enter their authentication code or password into an inappropriate field as part of an effort to "train a new security system." If the user falls for it, the attacker gets full access to the bank's website, and can even obscure withdrawals of funds…”
10.     Traveling Light in a Time of Digital Thievery  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/11/technology/electronic-security-a-worry-in-an-age-of-digital-espionage.html  “When Kenneth G. Lieberthal, a China expert at the Brookings Institution, travels to that country, he follows a routine that seems straight from a spy film. He leaves his cellphone and laptop at home and instead brings “loaner” devices, which he erases before he leaves the United States and wipes clean the minute he returns. In China, he disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi…and, in meetings, not only turns off his phone but also removes the battery, for fear his microphone could be turned on remotely. He connects to the Internet only through an encrypted, password-protected channel, and copies and pastes his password from a USB thumb drive. He never types in a password directly…he said, “the Chinese are very good at installing key-logging software on your laptop.” What might have once sounded like the behavior of a paranoid is now standard operating procedure for officials at American government agencies, research groups and companies that do business in China and Russia — like Google, the State Department and the Internet security giant McAfee. Digital espionage in these countries, security experts say, is a real and growing threat — whether in pursuit of confidential government information or corporate trade secrets…Both China and Russia prohibit travelers from entering the country with encrypted devices unless they have government permission…At AirPatrol, a company based in Columbia, Md., that specializes in wireless security systems, employees take only loaner devices to China and Russia, never enable Bluetooth and always switch off the microphone and camera. “We operate under the assumption that we will inevitably be compromised…”
11.      Cyberwar Is Fueling a Cybersecurity-Industrial Complex  http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/02/yellowcake-and-cyberwar/  “In last month’s State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to pass “legislation that will secure our country from the growing dangers of cyber threats.” The Hill was way ahead of him, with over 50 cybersecurity bills introduced this Congress…The reason cybersecurity legislation is so pressing, proponents say, is that we face an immediate risk of national disaster…Yet evidence to sustain such dire warnings is conspicuously absent…rhetoric about cyber catastrophe resembles threat inflation we saw in the run-up to the Iraq War. And while Congress’ passing of comprehensive cybersecurity legislation wouldn’t lead to war, it could saddle us with an expensive and overreaching cyber-industrial complex…evidence that cyberattacks and cyberespionage are real and serious concerns is not evidence that we face a grave risk of national catastrophe…alarmingly, when Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) took to the Senate floor to introduce the comprehensive cybersecurity bill that she co-authored with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the evidence she cited to support a pressing need for regulation included this…Wall Street Journal story. Washington teems with people who have a vested interest in conflating and inflating threats to our digital security…Cybersecurity is a big and booming industry. The U.S. government is expected to spend $10.5 billion a year on information security by 2015…Lockheed Martin, Boeing, L-3 Communications, SAIC, and BAE Systems have all launched cybersecurity divisions…Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and ManTech International, have invested in information security products and services…Stop the apocalyptic rhetoric. The alarmist scenarios dominating policy discourse may be good for the cybersecurity-industrial complex, but they aren’t doing real security any favors…”
12.     Breaches galore as Cryptome hacked to infect visitors with malware  http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2012/02/breaches-galore-as-cryptome-hacked-to-infect-visitors-with-malware.ars  “A breach that caused Cryptome.org to infect visitors with virulent malware was one of at least six attacks reported to hit high-profile sites or services in the past few days. Others affected included Ticketmaster, websites for Mexico and the state of Alabama, Dutch ISP KPN, and the Microsoft store in India. Cryptome…was attacked by hackers who left code on its servers that attempted to infect visitors using Windows PCs with a trojan spawned by the Blackhole Toolkit…the attackers were able to infect his website with a poisoned PHP file by exploiting a weakness in security or server software provided by Network Solutions, which hosts the Cryptome website…PHP code on Cryptome's servers specifically excluded infecting machines using IP addresses from Google, presumably to keep the infection from coming to the attention of the company's antimalware defenses…”  [interesting indirect malware reaction to Google, this version of Blackhole avoided infecting machines using IP addresses from Google; wonder if Google can translate that into Chrome users being avoided by malware – ed.]
Mobile Computing & Communicating
13.     Trimble Yuma, The Military Grade Ubuntu Linux Tablet  http://tabletcrunch.com/2012/02/07/trimble-yuma-the-military-grade-ubuntu-linux-tablet/  “…now we have a new Ubuntu tablet called the Trimble Yuma…targeting the U.S. military and other industrial applications that require data collection, inspection, and reporting from what would otherwise be considered “rugged terrain”…Yuma can be used with geospatial software including GRASS GIS and Quantum GIS as well as other standard or custom Linux-based applications…the Trimle Yuma Ubuntu tablet has a starting price of only $3,695.  Let’s just say this tablet is not trying to the compete with the Kindle Fire! Trimble Yuma Ubuntu Tablet Specs…2.6 pounds…1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor…7-inch sunlight-readable touchscreen…magnesium alloy shell…32GB or 80GB of storage…meets the United States…MIL-STD-810F…”
14.     Zync Offers India's First And Cheapest Android 4.0 Tablet  http://www.efytimes.com/e1/fullnews.asp?edid=78636  “…Zync Global has unveiled…the country's first and cheapest Android 4.0 tablet. The Zync Z-990 tablet sports a 17.8-cm (7-inch) capacitive touch screen and is powered by a 1.2 GHz processor and 1 GB RAM. It features support for 3G (via dongle), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and comes with an expandable memory card slot of up to 32 GB. "The Zync Z-990 is India's first Android 4.0 tablet available at such an economical price…and will be available around the first week of March…a 3600 mAh battery could be one of the most beneficial features of the tablet…Zync Z-990 tablet is priced at an MOP of Rs 8,000 and can be pre-ordered from various websites such as Letsbuy.com, Yebhi.com and Snapdeal.com…”
15.     The Kindle Fire After Two Months  http://www.mylinuxrig.com/post/17428894656/the-kindle-fire-after-two-months  “My wife got me a Kindle Fire for the holidays and…I wanted to provide the perspective of someone who’s been seriously using the device for a few weeks…I’m a very fast typist and I find it infuriating working with text on an on-screen keyboard…That’s impacted how I’m using the Fire. I’m really using it to consume content and avoiding creating content on it, including emails and tweets…The PDF experience is fine. I purchased EZ PDF Reader Pro for reading PDFs, since it gives me the ability to annotate the PDFs also…it’s much nicer reading on the Fire than on a laptop screen. I’m constantly making PDFs of long web articles and sending them to the Fire (I like the pagination available in PDFs…figuring out how to get PDFs onto the Fire wasn’t as simple as I thought…Every Fire has a unique email address that allows you to email documents to the device. However, more often than not, the documents wouldn’t arrive, or would only show up once I had restarted the device, which I don’t do too often…I was shocked that Dropbox isn’t in the Fire app repositories. I sideloaded it easily, but it’s kind of crazy that such a popular app isn’t available. Once I had Dropbox installed, uploading content was much, much easier. I just upload everything I want on the Fire into a Kindle folder in my Dropbox account…I’ve yet to read a book on my Fire. I’m a librarian and so have access to a huge range of material…I can’t rationalize paying for a book that’s available to me for free. And just about everything is available to me for free…As a Linux user who can’t run Netflix on his computer (and probably will never have that ability), I appreciate that the Fire has a Netflix app. It’s not a bad way to watch stuff, although I watch 99.9% of my Netflix content on TV…”
16.     One Billion Smartphones by 2016  http://gigaom.com/2012/02/13/preparing-for-a-mobile-first-world/  “When smartphones are in the hands of a billion customers, that’s not just a trend. That’s a moment that requires a huge rethink in how companies do business and build products…Mobile is a not just another device, but involves a new way of thinking that takes into account the power and immediacy of smartphones and tablets…1 billion consumers will own smartphones by 2016, with U.S. users owning 257 million smartphones and 126 million tablets. By 2016, 350 million employees will use smartphones, with 200 million of them bringing their own…Mobile spending will reach $1.3 trillion by 2016, or 35 percent of the technology economy, with the app market generating $56 billion by 2015…companies need to realize that mobile apps serve as a new front end for engagement systems…Companies are already seeing a return on their investment in mobile, which can boost customer engagement and satisfaction…Walgreens had 25 percent of its transactions come from its mobile app. Insurance company Aflac reported that the equivalent of 25 million customer calls have been handled through its mobile app by agents sitting in their client’s office…”
17.     12 trends for mobile health in 2012  http://mobihealthnews.com/16310/12-trends-for-mobile-health-in-2012/  “Last week MobiHealthNews hosted its first webinar of 2012. During my presentation I shared my 12 trends for 2012…1.) The Adoption of Smartphones and Tablets…2.) Increased FDA Clarity…3.) Consumer Devices in the Healthcare Enterprise…4.) More Efficacy Studies…5.) Certification of Health and Medical Apps…6.) Focus on Behavior Change…7.) Many more app developer Challenges…8.) Investment Dollars Hold Steady…9.) Silicon Valley Gets Serious About Healthcare…10.) Payors offer More Substantial Mobile Services…11.) Three Big Mobile Opportunities for Pharma: Marketing, Clinical Trials, Adherence…12.) A Home Health Shakeout…” [the reason I’ve been periodically including health care mobile apps is because it seems like a huge market with a lot of innovation and revenue opportunities – ed.]
Apps
18.     ABCs of mobile app development taught at Queens high school  http://centralny.ynn.com/content/features/573569/tech-beat--abcs-of-mobile-app-development-taught-at-queens-high-school/  “Who will create the next "Angry Birds" or "Siri," the next must-have mobile app? It might be one of the students at Grover Cleveland High School in Queens, which has been chosen to be one of five schools in the United States to be part of a pilot program run by Lenovo and the National Academy Foundation, where app development will be added to the curriculum. "This really enables them to build mobile applications, become a developer and put together a business plan on how that application should be marketed," says Pat McKay of Lenovo…Organizers of the program say teaching these students how to make apps, something they use every day, reinforces on so many levels the importance of studying the so-called STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math…"I always wondered how to make it, now that I'm getting hands-on experience. It's crazy," says one student. "It's not as easy as I thought but more fun than I thought."…To learn more about programs in your neighborhood that encourage students to take a great interested in STEM subjects, check out the initiative by YNN's parent company, Time Warner Cable, at ConnectAMillionMinds.com.”
19.     How to speak the language of the app economy  http://venturebeat.com/2012/02/14/app-economy/  “Recently, a 12-year-old Irish boy named Harry Moran wrote a mobile app called PizzaBot. It hit the Mac App Store and within a week, it had surpassed Angry Birds, attracting fans from around the world…Welcome to the lighter side of the App Economy, in which software applications have the potential to be downloaded by millions in the blink of an eye and far greater opportunities are on the horizon. There’s a perfect storm brewing thanks to globalization, a tough financial climate, and incredible technology disruption…The battle is being waged with apps — on the web and in the cloud, driven by mobile and social technologies. As the App Economy continues to unfold, the playing field and the rules of engagement are different than in decades past. Five years ago, these kinds of apps didn’t even exist. Today, we’ve created a $4 billion app industry…Traditional application development platforms, processes and best practices are being replaced or revitalized with…rapid, iterative development and continuous integration, building high quality services over time by prototyping, quickly releasing, and fine-tuning through iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once…Also gaining momentum are open-source application frameworks, with enterprises adopting such frameworks as Django, Rails and Zend Framework to preserve flexibility for app development while providing structure where it’s needed so teams can collaborate to extend and scale apps productively and consistently over time, taking advantage of the wealth of libraries that are contributed and shared by the developer community…Charlie Babcock calls APIs “the secret ingredient of the App Economy” and emphasizes that a new generation of developers has come of age using languages such as JavaScript, PHP, and Ruby…”
SkyNet
20.    Google paying Chrome users to give up their personal browsing data  http://9to5google.com/2012/02/08/screenwise-google-paying-chrome-users-to-give-up-their-personal-browsing-data/  “Do you want to be paid to surf the web using the Google Chrome browser? A new Google program called “Screenwise panel” (first reported by SearchEngineLand) is apparently providing users with that exact opportunity. In exchange, Google requests that you give up your privacy and provide your personal browsing data to Google. There has not been an official announcement, but there is already a signup page available here…” http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2012/02/google-paying-users-to-track-100-of-their-web-usage-via-little-black-box.ars  [arrrggh – I can’t believe Google is doing a ‘microsoft’ and paying people to use Chrome; it would be interesting to know if this was a planned stealth leak, because it doesn’t appear there was ever an official Google announcement  – ed.]
21.     Adobe confirms: no Flash for Chrome on Android  http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2012/02/adobe-confirms-no-flash-for-chrome-on-android.ars  “Google issued a beta release of Chrome for Android earlier today. The browser provides support for modern Web standards and includes a number of compelling features that aren't available in the Android's default browser. One noteworthy Chrome desktop feature that isn't included in the mobile port, however, is the integrated Flash runtime. Adobe has issued a statement confirming that Chrome for Android does not support Flash content. The company also indicated that it does not plan to work with Google to add Flash support to the new mobile browser. Adobe will, however, continue supporting Flash in the current default Android browser…When Google eventually moves to replace the default Android browser with Chrome in future versions of the Android platform, devices that run the operating system will likely no longer be able to play Flash content in the browser…” [yikes, does this mean that when Google makes Chrome the default browser for Android that neither iOS nor Android mobile devices will be able to view Flash?? – ed.]
22.    Google Near Launch of Cloud Storage Service  http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052970204369404577211961645711988-lMyQjAxMTAyMDAwODEwNDgyWj.html  “Google Inc. is close to launching a cloud-storage service that would rival one of Silicon Valley's hottest start-ups, cloud-storage provider Dropbox Inc…Like Dropbox, Google's storage service, called Drive, is a response to the growth of Internet-connected mobile devices…and…storing files online…Drive allows people to store photos, documents and videos on Google's servers so that they could be accessible from any Web-connected device and allows them to easily share the files with others…As of October 2011, Dropbox had more than 45 million members who saved one billion files every few days…Google's Drive service also would rival Apple's iCloud, which lets people store data online and is designed to synch with Apple mobile devices…World-wide, $830 million was spent on such file and back-up storage services in 2011, and that figure is expected to grow by 47% to $1.2 billion this year…The free version of Dropbox lets people store as much as two gigabytes of data. People can pay $10 or $20 a month to store up to 50 or 100 gigabytes, and hundreds of dollars for a lot more storage…”
23.    I, Robot: Google Tech Talk  http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/i-robot/  “On 13 February 2012, I will give a talk at Google in the form of a robot…My talk will be about “Energy, the Environment and What We Can Do.” Since I think we should cut unnecessary travel, I decided to stay here in Singapore and use a telepresence robot instead of flying to California. I thank Mike Stay for arranging this at Google, and I especially thank Trevor Blackwell and everyone else at Anybots for letting me use one of their robots! I believe Google will film this event and make a video available. But I hope reporters attend, because it should be fun, and I plan to describe some ways we can slash carbon emissions…”
24.    Regulators to Google: You can buy Motorola, but we still don't trust you  http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/02/regulators-to-google-you-can-buy-motorola-but-we-still-dont-trust-you.ars  “Google got exactly what it needed today to close the book on its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility. With approval from both US and European authorities, Google is set to acquire one of the biggest Android hardware makers and a portfolio of 17,000 patents. But regulators on both sides of the pond went out of their way to warn Google not to abuse the patents, with the Justice Department comparing Google's patent statements unfavorably with what Justice views as more responsible statements made by Apple and Microsoft. In effect, regulators from both the US and Europe said there wasn't enough evidence to prevent Google's acquisition of Motorola today, but warned that Google's future actions could invite antitrust scrutiny…It almost sounds as though antitrust officials wanted to disapprove the Google/Motorola buy, but couldn't find compelling enough grounds to do so…”
General Technology
25.    Camelback zaps bacteria with UV rays  http://www.gizmag.com/camelbak-all-clear-uv/21413/  “When you're dealing with the impurities of your local city water supply, a Brita filter should be enough to give you clean-tasting water. But when you're dealing with the impurities lingering in a raw, untreated stream in the woods, you'll need something stronger. This solution from Camelbak - the All Clear bottle - gives you an integrated UV purifier designed to kill all those nasty microorganisms that just live to wring your intestines out…CamelBak All Clear Microbiological UV Water Purifier…is an all-in-one purification and drinking system. The bottle includes a high-power UV light similar to what's used in standalone purifiers…screw the cap in; hold the power button down for two seconds; and rotate the bottle while the UV rays do their work. The LCD screen counts down and lets you know when the process is complete and the water safe to drink. The UV system is claimed to zap 99.9999 percent of bacteria, 99.99 percent of viruses and 99.9 percent of protozoa in 25 ounces (0.75 liter) of water in 60 seconds time…The bulb itself is designed to last for 10,000 cycles…Camelbak will start selling the All Clear system next month. It will retail for US$99 and include the 25-ounce Tritan Better Bottle, a classic cap for drinking, the All Clear purification cap, a protective case for storing the All Clear cap, and the mini-USB cable for recharging…”
26.    DARPA’s AlphaDog robot pack mule begins real world testing  http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/117493-darpas-alphadog-robot-pack-mule-begins-real-world-testing  “DARPA has released the first video of its robot Legged Squad Support System (LS3) walking untethered and in the wild…watch in awe as a robotic quadruped scales a rocky, forested hill while carrying a heavy load on its back…Before LS3 can be deployed, it must prove that it can carry 400 pounds (181kg) for 20 miles without being refueled and within 24 hours. Testing will also focus on AlphaDog’s vision sensors, which allow it to avoid obstacles or track (friendly) soldiers. DARPA and Boston Dynamics (the dog’s creator) are currently looking at adding voice commands, so that Marines can tell AlphaDog to “sit”, “stop”, or “come here.”…AlphaDog also has a power outlet, which is obviously rather useful when you’re trekking across the desert and your iPod runs out of juice. The end result is that American soldiers will no longer have to carry 100 pounds (45kg) of gear into battle…” [check out the video; boy does the AlphaDog look spooky – not straight out of Star Wars, but close – ed.]
27.    Listen to Your Community, But Don't Let Them Tell You What to Do  http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/02/listen-to-your-community-but-dont-let-them-tell-you-what-to-do.html  “…when people ask me what our biggest mistake was in building Stack Overflow…I can honestly and openly point to a huge, honking, ridiculously dumb mistake I made from the very first day of development on Stack Overflow…I didn't see the need for a meta. Meta is, of course, the place where you go to discuss the place…Meta is for people who care so deeply about their community that they're willing to go one step further, to come together and spend even more of their time deciding how to maintain and govern it…Every Stack Exchange site we launch has a meta from day one. We now know that meta participation is the source of all meaningful leadership and governance in a community, so it is cultivated and monitored closely…Along the way I've learned a few lessons about building software with your community, and handling community feedback…1. 90% of all community feedback is crap…2. Don't get sweet talked into building a truck…3. Be honest about what you won't do…4. Listen to your community, but don't let them tell you what to do…5. Be there for your community…”
28.    Wind-up AA battery  http://quintessentialcool.com/home/wind-up-double-a-battery/  “This is definitely one to add to your Bug-Out-Bag in preparation for the apocalypse. The imaginatively named "Charge Battery" is a collaboration by South Korean designers…It stores electrical energy from the mechanical energy you apply to it through the winding of a spring by twisting it's casing. For an innovation in the field of Energy there is a refreshing lack of psuedo-scientific claims about the Charge Battery's capabilities and the science behind it seems sound. It's similar to a child's wind-up car in that the mechanical energy from the winding stores potential energy in a spring in the lower section of the battery, but then rather than drive the wheels of a car, the spring drives the shaft in a generator to charge a small rechargeable Ni-mH battery in the upper section…”
29.    Charge Your Phone (and Your Car) from Afar  http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/39657/  “…Witricity, a startup that hopes to revolutionize electronics by replacing wireless charging systems with ones that send power safely through the air…uses technology developed at MIT that extends the range of inductive wireless charging…the inductive chargers available today work over only very short distances and require physical contact between the charger and electronic device, which isn't much more convenient than plugging a device in…The distance that power can be transferred in this way depends on the size of the coils. If both the sending and receiving coils are small, as may be the case with a system for mobile phones, the charger and the phone need to be placed within several centimeters to charge efficiently. But Witricity has also shown prototypes with larger coils that can send power at distances of about a meter…A handful of researchers are even working to extend the concept to allow charging of electric vehicles while they are out on the road…researchers at Utah State University are installing a system to charge buses as they stop along a route in Salt Lake City…In the Oak Ridge model, 200 coils would be embedded in a section of the roadway and controlled by a single roadside device; successive coils would be energized as electric vehicles pass over them, providing enough power for the vehicle to reach the next series of coils a mile down the road…”
Leisure & Entertainment
30.    Review: Sony PlayStation Vita handheld gaming system  http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/review-sony-playstation-vita-handheld-gaming-system/2012/02/07/gIQAZGQn8Q_story.html  “…Sony…On Feb. 22…will release a dedicated handheld gaming system called the PlayStation Vita into the market…that is crowded with traditional home consoles and Nintendo’s DSi and 3DS devices, not to mention iPhones, iPads and dozens of…Android smartphones and tablets…The $249.99 device is stacked in the hardware department…a beautiful, five-inch organic LED display that is multi-touch capable and relatively high-resolution…though the 960- by 544-pixel display…lower in pixel count than two popular smartphones…Apple’s iPhone 4S, and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus…Vita also packs a speedy processor, cameras on the front and back, Wi-Fi (a 3G-equipped model on AT&T’s network is available for an additional $50) and Bluetooth, and has a slot for memory cards from 4GB to 32GB. Weirdly, there’s no on-board storage — you have to use a proprietary Sony card…unlike your smartphone — the Vita is loaded with physical controls…a full directional pad, dual analog sticks, four main game buttons, two shoulder triggers, a “home” button, and select and start buttons. Along the top edge of the system is a power button and volume controls…the back of the device is a touch panel nearly as large as the screen…Playing games on the Vita is as close as you’ll get to holding an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 controller in your hand when you’re out and about…The Vita’s graphics performance is easily the best I’ve seen in any handheld game system…I found myself getting lost in the game as I would on a home console…Sony knows it has to compete with much more robust devices such as that iPhone in your pocket, so the company is including a Web browser and says that apps such as Twitter, Foursquare and Skype will be available…You’ll also have access to Google Maps…Although the gaming is excellent on the handheld, it is not mind-blowingly better than really killer smartphone gaming experiences, such as Electronic Arts’ “Dead Space”…or the incredible “Infinity Blade II.”…the Vita feels very much like an enthusiast device…It feels like the last of its kind: a powerful gaming device from an age when the phone you carried with you didn’t do pretty much everything…the Vita is the best handheld gaming console I’ve ever used, but I still don’t think I’ll be putting it in my bag when I leave the house…”
31.     Neilsen tells Oprah tweeting Nielsen viewers to watch her channel is cheating  http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/14/idUS142631087420120214  “TV networks can advertise, promote, and tweet endlessly in hopes of drawing ratings. They can offer a tireless parade of semi-naked people, guest stars, very special episodes, cliffhangers, "midseason finales," and any number of other old and new tricks in pursuit of ratings. They just can't try to directly influence the 25,000 or so Niesen families…Oprah Winfrey was reminded of that rule Monday after she took to Twitter and invited viewers -- especially any with "a Neilsen [sic] box" -- to tune into her struggling OWN network. She sent the tweet Sunday and soon deleted it, she said, at Nielsen's request…Because you can give away cars to everyone in your studio audience to get people to watch your show. You just can't ask people with Nielsen boxes to watch it…There's a reasonable basis for the rule: You don't want every Nielsen family to be bribed with new cars in the driveway, for example. That might lead to a terrifying world in which dumb, lowest-common denominator shows thrive even as intelligent, challenging ones are cancelled…”
Economy and Technology
32.    Tough Times for U.S. EV Battery Makers  http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/39578/  “The U.S. government's effort to create an electric-vehicle battery industry suffered a setback last week when one of the companies it funded as part of this effort saw its parent company file for bankruptcy protection. Battery maker Enerdel had been awarded a $118.5 million grant to build a lithium-ion battery factory in Indiana as part of a $2 billion grant program for electric-vehicle component and battery manufacturing…Enerdel will continue operations during bankruptcy proceedings…there are too many companies chasing too few contracts for making electric- and hybrid-vehicle batteries…Ener1's troubles are the result of a heavy reliance on a single major customer, the electric-car company Think…Think itself failed after poor sales of its…car, in the face of stiff competition from GM's Volt and Nissan's Leaf, which are both cheaper and more practical vehicles…Nine companies received grants to build advanced-battery factories from the U.S. government as part of the 2009 Recovery Act. A 10th factory, proposed by a joint venture between Nissan and NEC…most of the companies that received funding can afford to wait a few years for the market for lithium-ion car batteries to grow. The exceptions…are Ener1 and A123 Systems. Ener1 is getting help from…wood pulp mogul Boris Zingarevich, who also bought the automaker Think after it failed…and who plans for the company to restart electric-vehicle production. A123 Systems…faced a setback late last year when one of its major customers, the startup Fisker Automotive, decreased its orders…Based on sales of about 20,000 to 30,000 for cars such as the GM Volt (compared to less than 10,000 last year), U.S. battery manufacturing capacity could exceed demand by five times or more…That's in part because much of the demand for automotive batteries will be met by Asian manufacturers…”
33.    Online Payments Startup WePay Grows Revenue By Ten-Fold In 2011  http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/13/online-payments-startup-wepay-grows-revenue-by-ten-fold-in-2011-will-launch-mobile-apps-this-year/  “Online payments platform and PayPal competitor WePay…launched in 2009 to take the hassle out of group paying…WePay, you can create a unique, FDIC insured account for each group. While the account is still associated with your name, but you can keep each group account totally separate from your personal transactions…last year the payments platform evolved into a broader offering, allowing any merchant or user a simple way to accept payments beyond just the group model…users can sign up with Facebook Connect, and WePay underwrites the risk of these individuals accepting payment by looking at their online presence, and social connections to evaluate risk…The company grew nearly ten times in revenue in 2011…Partners like GoFundMe, which replaced PayPal with WePay as its primary payment platform, are helping fuel this growth…About half of all WePay payments were initiated through social media…Clerico says that mobile is an area where WePay has not yet explored and will launch mobile apps in the coming year…” [if you’ve looked at WePay, have you found any advantages compared to PayPal? How large does an online/mobile payments service need to be before you’d be comfortable using it with your money? – ed.]
34.    Strong Q4 for LinkedIn  http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-57374254-92/strong-q4-for-linkedin-shares-rise-slightly-after-hours/  “…LinkedIn reported fourth quarter earnings of $6.9 million…Shares climbed by 4 percent to $79.85 in after hours trading on Thursday. For 2011 overall, LinkedIn posted a revenue $522.2 million, a 115 percent jump from $243.1 million in 2010…By the end of 2012, LinkedIn is expecting revenue to fall between $840 million to $860 million…Talent Pipeline: Currently in pilot mode, the new solution that allows recruiters and hiring managers to manage, track, and stay in touch with active and passive candidates…”
35.    Apple now worth more than Google and Microsoft combined  http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/12/02/09/apple_now_worth_more_than_google_and_microsoft_combined.html  “…Apple's stock soared to new heights on Thursday, pushing the company's market capitalization to $456 billion…As of Thursday morning, Microsoft's market cap was around $256.7 billion, while Google was valued at around $198.9 billion. With Apple's stock up more than 3 percent in morning trading, the company surpassed the combined totals of both Google and Microsoft…”
DHMN Technology
36.    Avogadro Corp  http://www.businessinsider.com/book-avogadro-corp-2012-2  “…then I mentioned a book I’d just read called Avogadro Corp…it’s a tremendous book that a number of friends had recommended to me. In the vein of Daniel Suarez’s great books Daemon and Freedom (TM), it is science fiction that has a five year aperture – describing issues, in solid technical detail, that we are dealing with today that will impact us by 2015, if not sooner. There are very few people who appreciate how quickly this is accelerating. The combination of software, the Internet, and the machines is completely transforming society and the human experience as we know it. As I stood overlooking Park City from the patio of a magnificent hotel, I thought that we really don’t have any idea what things are going to be like in twenty years. And that excites me to no end while simultaneously blowing my mind. I’m spending the day tomorrow at the Silicon Flatirons Digital Broadband Migration Conference…There will be a live stream of the event on UStream (which is awesome – imagine the effort to do that 20 years ago) so you can watch it in real time if you want. Every single person there needs to read Avogadro Corp, Daemon, and Freedom (TM)…”
37.    Da Vinci, the Arduino-Powered Etch-a-Sketch  http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/02/arduino-powered-etch-a-sketch/  “Patrick McCabe’s latest creation is a delightfully ironic combination of high-tech and low-tech that is sure to please…Patrick’s da Vinci is nothing less than a classic Etch-a-Sketch driven by stepper motors and controlled by an Arduino. Oh — and the frame and gears are all laser-cut, just to bump the coolness of the project from an A to an A+…Patrick has provided an extensive writeup of the entire build process over on his personal website…” [pretty cool looking; check out the pictures – ed.]
38.    DARPA-Funded Hacker's Tiny $50 Spy Computer Hides In Offices, Drops From Drones  http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2012/01/27/darpa-funded-hackers-tiny-50-spy-computer-hides-in-offices-drops-from-drones/  “…security researcher Brendan O’Connor is trying a different approach to spy hardware: building a sensor-equipped surveillance-capable computer that’s so cheap it can be sacrificed after one use, with off-the-shelf parts that anyone can buy and assemble for less than fifty dollars. At the Shmoocon security conference Friday in Washington D.C., O’Connor plans to present the F-BOMB, or Falling or Ballistically-launched Object that Makes Backdoors. Built from just the hardware in a commercially-available PogoPlug mini-computer, a few tiny antennae, eight gigabytes of flash memory and some 3D-printed plastic casing, the F-BOMB serves as 3.5 by 4 by 1 inch spy computer. And O’Connor has designed the cheap gadgets to dropped from a drone, plugged inconspicuously into a wall socket, thrown over a barrier, or otherwise put into irretrievable positions to quietly collect data and send it back to the owner over any available Wifi network. With PogoPlugs currently on sale at Amazon for $25, O’Connor built his prototypes with gear that added up to just $46 each…the F-BOMB is more than a hacker hobby. O’Connor says his one-man security consultancy Malice Afterthought received a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contract earlier this month to develop the devices as part of the Cyber Fast Track program, which awards small sums to inventors…he says the devices are only intended for penetration testing–finding security flaws in clients’ networks in order to fix them–and wouldn’t comment on what DARPA might do with the technology. That hasn’t stopped the 26-year old researcher from coming up with a few clever ways to deliver or hide the tiny spy computers. One version attaches to the Parrot Drone, an iPhone-controllable quadcopter, sucking power off the drone’s rechargeable battery and allowing the user to hover over a target, land it on a roof, or drop the F-BOMB from a hook attachment on the drone. Another version fits inside a carbon monoxide detector, and can be plugged into a wall socket to hide in plain sight inside a target’s building…”
39.    Two-seater German-made multicopter flying machine on its way  http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/118131-two-seater-german-made-multicopter-flying-machine-on-its-way  “E-volo, the German team that flew a manned, electric, 16-rotor multicopter last October, will launch a two-seater version this spring — and a commercial model will go on sale in 2013…according to E-volo the multicopter is capable of flying for 20 to 30 minutes on a single charge…By default, the multicopter just hangs there, and according to the pilot it is very easy to control…The obvious advantage of a multicopter is safety: It has all the benefits of a helicopter, but no overhead rotor — so you can eject and/or parachute to safety. E-volo maintains that…none of the usual factors that make flight complicated (pitch, minimum speed, stall) are present with the Velocopter…As for applications of a commercial multicopter (due in 2013!), well, the only limit is your imagination. They would be fantastic leisure craft…” [check out the graphics of the commercial Velocopter concept – ed.]
40.    DARPA Crowdsourced UAVForce robots begin to fly  http://futureoftech.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/09/10364145-darpa-drone-competition-takes-off-in-videos  “A competition that aims to harness the world's most creative engineering minds for building next-generation military drones is heating up with proof-of-flight videos of the contraptions posted online…Top judging in the first round went to a Death Star-like ball on wheels called the GremLion…The GremLion was designed by a team at the National University of Singapore and is shown off in the awesomely narrated video…the video most liked by viewers, as of this writing, demonstrates a tablet-controlled quadcopter called SwiftFlight…Another crowd pleaser is a video describing icarusLabs's entry, a winged aircraft that hovers inside an office before taking to the skies…The next phase of the competition will be live demonstration of the concepts later this month. A fly-off of the 10 top designs will be held this spring. The winner will receive a $100,000 prize, a subcontract with a manufacturer to develop the concept, and an opportunity to demonstrate it to the military. For more videos and information on the competition, head on over to UAVforge.net.”
41.     A Hackathon for Geekery and the Greater Good  http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/02/06/hackathon-geekery-and-greater-good  “…I watched and listened, grinning like a Cheshire Cat as the room of more than 100 developers and sustainability practitioners announced the open source hardware, software, and APIs they were throwing into the collective pot for the Green Hackathon held in London last weekend. This was my first hackathon, but what I noticed immediately was the culture of sharing. The format's brilliance is that it brings together subject matter experts good at thinking through their areas of focus but sometimes paralyzed by too much information…it also showcases developers who are incredibly good at turning ideas into actual working things. Teams of this combination cross-pollinate ideas and generate prototypes quickly instead of turning toward consultants or waiting until resources open up…Participants go through something like a speed-dating process in the first hour. They seek out project teams with similar goals and start collaging different data sources, user interfaces, and application programming interfaces (APIs) to solve a problem. This green hackathon yielded 16 solutions or hacks at the end of day two! Organized by AMEE and sponsored by [full disclosure: my employer] Autodesk, Forum for the Future, TruCost, Technology Strategy Board and Wieden+Kennedy, among others, the hackathon created a physical space for rapid collaborations. By the end of the second day several of the web-based tools were available on active websites ready to be used…”
Open Source Hardware
42.    An Open Source Laser Sintering 3D Printer  http://blog.makezine.com/2012/02/01/an-open-source-laser-sintering-3d-printer/  “Additive rapid prototyping in plastic materials is becoming quite accessible to home and hobby users. If you’re a hobbyist on a typical budget wanting to rapid prototype in metal, however, you’re limited to subtractive methods, i.e. CNC machine tools like mills and lathes, and even those are not exactly “cheap.” Professional 3D printing services like Shapeways offer additive metal prototyping in metals…but it’s extremely expensive. The technology their 3D printers use, called “laser sintering,” is fundamentally different from the RepRap-type fused-filament…In selective laser sintering (SLS), the object is built up in a bed of powder by a scanning laser beam that fuses tiny bits of the powder together, one layer at a time…Swarthmore College engineering student Andreas Bastian has developed a low-cost, open-source laser sintering printer design. It uses an IR laser diode on a bed of powder made from a mixture of wax and carbon, and produces fused wax models, which can then be duplicated in metal, for instance aluminum, using a traditional lost-wax casting process…”
43.    Interview: Limor Fried on Open Source Hardware  http://www.cbc.ca/spark/2012/02/full-interview-limor-fried-on-open-source-hardware/  “Making wearable computers? A booster for your iPhone made out of a mint box? It doesn’t get more DIY than this. Limor Fried is the founder an lead engineer at Adafruit Industries. She’s one of the leading forces behind the maker movement – people who like to alter technology to better it, or make electronics at home from scratch. And she’s particularly interested in making hardware that is open source…hear the full, uncut interview below, or download the MP3. [runs 19:30]” [if interested in OSHW, listen to this interview; she’s one of the leaders in the OSHW movement]
44.    Haptic Feedback Glove / Open Source Hardware In A Peer Reviewed Journal  http://grathio.com/2012/02/open-source-hardware-in-a-peer-reviewed-journal/  “The latest issue of the International Journal of Orientation & Mobility (a peer-reviewed journal about orientation and mobility of people with vision impairments) has an article from me discussing my Tacit project. I’m…proud of this article because it talks about Open Source Hardware, a developing concept where the plans to make something are shared allowing anyone with the ability to make it. It’s a powerful concept that has the potential to disrupt a number of industries. The one I particularly go after in this article are the developers of assistive devices. In general devices in this category cost thousands of dollars and often have dubious ability, design, or quality. The prices are artificially high because they expect insurance or other financial assistance programs to pay for them. Offering an Open Source design changes that. The device can be built for the cost of materials, and the design can be improved by anyone who knows better…And that’s where Tacit comes in. The haptic feedback glove has already been made hundreds of times in dozens of countries around the world…People have contributed improvements, and over all the mobility and independence of many visually impaired people have been improved…It’s a chance to get the idea of Open Source Hardware in front of scholars, scientists and other people dealing with difficult problems…It’s my hope that by exposing them to a successful implementation Open Source Hardware they can be encouraged to share their solutions in ways that will benefit as many people as they possibly can…”
45.    Mikey Sklar - Open Source Hardware Developer  http://www.eeweb.com/spotlight/interview-with-mikey-sklar  “Mikey Sklar - Open Source Hardware Developer…How did you get into electronics / engineering and when did you start?...When I was a kid my school sent me to a NeuralLinguistic Programming center. They said I had some sort of learning disability. The NLP folks suggested to my mom that I get a computer and play games with it…By the time I was twenty I worked for three fortune 100 companies…as a UNIX admin managing 3 of the top 100 supercomputers in the world…What are your favorite hardware / software tools that you use?...ZenToolWorks 7×7 CNC…Rii mini i6…AVR JTAG Programmer MKI Clone..gEDA gschem and pcb…What has been your favorite project?...My favorite project is the “High Lighter“ a trampoline that shoots fireballs…The trampoline is capable of shooting 8’ tall fireballs when maxed…What are you currently working on?...I used to wear a suit and tie and work on a stock exchange trading floor. Now I live off-grid, grow food, collect rain water, build unusual structures out of paper and make fuel for my car. In order to fund my back-to-the-land lifesytle I design control systems for small alternative energy companies in New Mexico. A Santa Fe company commissioned me to build a system to monitor and control the growth of algae…What direction do you see your business heading in the next few years?...I’m following the Adafruit model. I setup a Zen Cart based an on-line store. I sell my projects in two forms, as kits and pre assembled. I plan to produce 2 to 4 new electronics kits each year…What are you excited about?...Home fabrication and mail order. I’m thrilled to see so many small businesses selling finished electronic projects and kits…Home CNC, Laser Cutters or 3D printers are becoming common. I love reading about people who are manufacturing at home in mass by using stencils, solder paste and toaster ovens to do so. People are making a living without commutes and cubicles…”
Open Source
46.    Open source university textbooks  http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/02/07/rice-university-announces-open-source-textbooks  “…soon, introductory physics texts will have a new competitor, developed at Rice University. A free online physics book…designed to compete with major publishers’ offerings, will debut next month through…OpenStax College…OpenStax will offer free course materials for five common introductory classes…organizers believe the programs could save students $90 million in the next five years if the books capture 10 percent of the national market. OpenStax is funded by grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the 20 Million Minds Foundation and the Maxfield Foundation…In the past, open-source materials have failed to gain traction among some professors…OpenStax believes it addressed those concerns with its new books, subjecting the texts to peer review and partnering with for-profit companies to offer supplementary materials for a cost. Whether the books are used at Rice is up to each professor, but several colleges and universities – “in the low 10s” said Connexions founder and director Richard Baraniuk – have already signed on for the first batch of texts…”
47.    ReactOS - An Odd Bird in Open Source  http://ostatic.com/blog/reactos-an-odd-bird-in-open-source  “ReactOS is one of the very few active open source operating systems not based off of Linux or BSD. ReactOS is an open source implementation of Microsoft Windows, entirely written from scratch, and licensed under the GPL. Everything in ReactOS, from the Kernel to the filesystem is created by looking at publicly available technical documentation on the internal workings of Windows. ReactOS is very small, both in the size of the operating system, and the in the size of the developer community, which may be why booting into ReactOS is like stepping back in time ten years…the ReactOS team released the latest version of ReactOS, 0.3.14. The new release is considered “alpha” quality, and is not recommended for everyday use…”
48.    Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 Reaches End of Life  http://ostatic.com/blog/debian-gnu-linux-5-0-reaches-end-of-life  “…version 5.0 of the multi-purpose operating system has reach the end of its supported life-cycle. One year after the release of Debian 6.0, the plug has finally been pulled on Lenny. Users are urged to upgrade their installs to the fully supported Squeeze…Version 6.04 was just released on January 28…A detailed guide for upgrading from Lenny is located on Debian.org.”
49.    Dia - The Diagram Creation Tool  http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/dia-diagram-creation-tool-0  “Dia is an application designed for quick creation of structured diagrams such as simple, line-based illustrations, flowcharts, UML charts and network diagrams. Being a vector based tool, there is some overlap with other applications such as Inkscape, but Dia's focus is on diagrams that are more functional than aesthetic…The toolbox features a set of tools that will be familiar to anyone who has used a vector drawing package before, such as lines and boxes, alongside selection and text tools. These facilities seem sparse until you reach the meat of the program, the shapes palette…Dia can export to the PNG bitmap format in addition to a wide range of common vector formats. The program itself has some support in third party applications such as LaTeX publishing system LyX. It's also available as a Windows application….I suspect that many users also use it as a no-nonsense vector illustration creation program. However, if this is your main requirement, you might be better off with Inkscape. In fact, it would be quite possible to use Dia for to create the type of diagrams that it's best at and then import the result into Inkscape to add a bit of eye candy. Although Dia hasn't seen much in the way of actual updates in a couple of years, thankfully, it is still being maintained…”
50.    coLinux: running Linux from within Windows  http://www.badpenguin.org/colinux  “Cooperative Linux (coLinux) is a very interesting project i stumbled upon a few days ago. The idea of this project is to allow a Linux Kernel to run at the same time (cooperation) with the Windows system instead of doing virtualization or emulation. The result is an amazing speed if compared to VirtualBox or other virtualization solutions…coLinux can run as stand-alone application (you get a console with working virtual TTYs) or as a system services. It can be insalled on Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7. Only 32bit mode is supported at this time but 64bit support is under work thanks to a $5,000.00 sponsorship they got…”
Civilian Aerospace
51.     State Of The Picosatellite Universe  http://www.science20.com/satellite_diaries/state_picosatellite_universe-86863  “…I have, off the record, been told of small companies looking to invest $10s of millions into launchers, of new picosatellite designs (like Cubesat and Tubesat) being bandied about…It is a very good time to be an early adopter, as I mentioned to Wes of Fluid&Reason.  They're also working on a picosatellite, in their case to investigate propulsion systems…A student at Capitol College is using high altitude balloons to prototype an implementing of the loss-happy communication protocol called DTR.  The Capitol "Velcrosat" team is designing an orbital debris removal system…When I started Proejct Calliope, it was as someone who worked in space but had never _built_ a satellite…I'd be relying on the growth of technology to help me solve engineering problems that, even fifteen years ago, would have been considered impossible for the amateur…I seem to have shifted from amateur to pro…In old days, you had to have studied under and received imprimatur by a senior name in the field to even start a major task.  In today's more information-driven era, you just have to actually do things-- a state I greatly prefer…the "build your own picosatellite" book is out!  At OReilly.com, you can now order our awesome DIY Satellite Platforms, which takes what I learned bashing on my picosatellite and translates it to easy-to-follow steps for creating your own more elegant mission. In Heinlein's "The Menace from Earth", a student team spends months designing an entire starhip sans drive, so they'd be ready once someone invents one.  Today, I feel that 'launchers' is the only missing piece that keeps more student and club groups from bringing new innovation into space concepts…”
52.    Bigelow's lofty plans hinge on space taxis  http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20120213/SPACE/302130005/What-s-being-done-about-Bigelow-s-lofty-plans-hinge-space-taxis  “…last year, Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert Bigelow inked a partnership with Space Florida that seemed a first step toward bringing dozens of launches and potentially 2,000 manufacturing jobs to the Space Coast…the state aerospace agency promised to help Nevada-based Bigelow market its inflatable space stations to potential customers, including basing a service center with scale models of the habitats in Florida…Underpinning it all is the availability of more affordable transportation to get people to and from Bigelow’s planned private space stations…flights once optimistically projected as soon as 2014 or 2015 are now not promised before 2017, in large part because a NASA program supporting development of commercial crew taxis received less than half the money it sought last year. “Our targets haven’t changed, but…you can’t make the market work until you get those commercial cargo and crew capabilities flying on a regular basis…”
Supercomputing & GPUs
53.    How The Muppets film was boosted by GPU chip advances  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16933023  “…When The Muppets opens at cinemas in the UK later this week, the film will contain about 350 shots created by the Los Angeles-based special effects team…audiences not in the know will be hard pushed to spot more than a few dozen…Most of the special effects in the film are designed to go unnoticed…Some of the characters have up to four puppeteers running them. And it unleashes them if they don't have to hide from the camera. In previous Muppet movies, many of the shots had to be designed around the teams operating the puppets, with boxes and pieces of furniture used to obscure them…Although much of this work still needed to be done manually, recent breakthroughs in GPU (graphics processing unit) technology helped speed up the process…Nvidia's Quadro graphics cards are widely used across the special effects industry - the firm claims about 95% of the market - thanks in part to the take-up of its Cuda programming language among key software developers over the past two years…"We used a lot of lens flare, edge rays and warp effects to create the fireworks," says Look's director of technology…"The artists could sit there with their GPU and deploy these effects and within seconds see the results, versus other workstations that don't have GPUs which would take two minutes to render this on a CPU…Whatever the director or supervisor wanted, and they could sit with the artist and do it in real time to get the look exactly the way they wanted it…Now we can do five iterations in an afternoon where it might have taken a day to an iteration before - so it would have taken a week instead of an afternoon to have done the same amount of testing,"…Look's artists say there is one downside to the speed gains - some producers now push for "crazy schedules" to save costs, despite the firm's philosophy that "more time equates to a better product". But…being able to have a film's director or visual effects chief come in and see changes made in real time, rather having to wait for the dailies to arrive, can help speed up the decision-making process and avoid unnecessary work…”
54.    University of Tsukuba, Xtreme-X Supercomputer Now in Operation  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/02/14/prweb9188897.DTL  “…the Center for Computational Sciences (CCS) at the University of Tsukuba in Japan has deployed and started operation of the new Appro Xtreme-X Supercomputer to support the Highly Accelerated Parallel Advanced system for Computational Sciences (HA-PACS). The new supercomputer went live in early February…HA-PACS is a 3-year project at the CCS, University of Tsukuba, to develop a new generation of large scale GPU clusters to be used as a testbed study to develop "tightly coupled parallel computing acceleration mechanism" to allow direct communication among the GPUs, targeting to accelerate further parallelism among the GPUs…Each compute node offers 2 CPUs based on the future Intel Xeon processor E5 product family and 4 GPUs based on NVIDIA Tesla M2090 Series. Each node provides 2.99 TeraFlops of computing power providing the world's fastest GPU accelerated node for massively clustered systems. The entire supercomputer achieves a peak performance of 802 teraflops (802 trillion times per second) to support computational sciences breakthroughs in the fields of subatomic particles, life sciences, space, nuclear physics and earth environment…”

*****

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